The five brothers that make up Def Jam’s R&B super group Brutha were literally born to sing. Besides their innate ability to harmonize, brothers Grady, Jake, Anthony, Papa and Jared come from a long line of gifted musicians that includes their father, Grady Harrell, who released a series of R&B albums on RCA Records in the late ‘80s.
After recognizing his sons’ natural talents, Harrell encouraged them to enter talent competitions in and around their South Central, Los Angeles homes. The boys eventually combined their efforts and in 2003, performed as a group for the first time at L.A.’s Key Club. After years of building their collective star, Brutha was offered a major label deal with Goodfellas Entertainment/Def Jam Records in 2007.
“In that four years before we got our deal we were basically grinding as much as we could as a group,” says Jake, the sensual singer of the group. “We were all pounding the streets in LA doing shows, bar mitzvahs weddings, anything we could do because we loved performing.”
“Our uncle had a relationship with the late Shakir Stewart and walked us into Def Jam and we sang for him and subsequently ended up meeting Jermaine Dupri and we were signed two weeks later,” adds the group’s eldest brother Grady.
In 2008, Brutha scored another career changing deal with the show Brothers to Brutha, a reality show that documented the group’s rise to fame and chronicled the recording of the guys’ debut album. The show was created by the prolific TV producer James Dubose and the band’s manager and uncle, Drano before being sold to BET, where it quickly became one of the network’s top rated shows. “The show allowed us to create a pretty solid fan base because we had 1.2 to 1.5million viewers every week,” says Jared who brings his love of hip-hop into Brutha’s sound. “But I don’t think the show really showed a lot of our musical side so now it’s time to start focusing more on the music.”
While their first album was well received by their fans, Brutha is ready to show the world just how far they have come. Their sophomore album, Vacancy is an intimate reflection of their young, fly and flashy lifestyle. With production from contemporary greats like R. Kelly, Vacancy is a sexy ride in the fast lane told only the way Brutha can.
“With our first album, we were new in the game,” says Anthony whose production knowledge enhances the guys’ overall sound. “We didn’t really get a chance to be ourselves. But his time around we have more experience and we are able to be more of ourselves. So it’s more sexual, it’s edgier and that’s who we are.”
For Vacancy, Brutha pulled inspiration from a long weekend in Vegas. It was an experience any young man would surely sing about. “This whole album is a true story,” says Anthony. “Three days in Vegas, poppin’ off doing what we gotta do. Vacancy is about love, sex, fun, and parties. It’s just completely a 180 from our first album.”
The album’s first single “One Day On This Earth” was written by R. Kelly and details the guys’ dying romantic wish and the lucky lady who will be the bearer of their final gifts. R. Kelly also appears on the titillating “Talk Box” where Brutha flex their skills over a mid-tempo track produced by Mad Scientist. The boys continue to satisfy the ladies on “Make Love” where they sing sweet nothings while proving that their love is supreme.
The second single “Yours Forever” written by Johnta Austin (Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige) and produced by Eric Hudson (Kanye West, Ne-Yo) taps into the bands softer side. This beautifully written mid-tempo love has the fivesome telling a woman everything she want to hear from the man she loves.
“High Coming Down” showcases an edgier side of the smooth singing five some as they invite rappers Twista and Rick Ross to spit game along with Brutha’s tales of a new love gone wrong. Then on “Money Green Eyes” the guys sing about an all too familiar Sin City story.
“Sometimes you have a little alcohol in you and you start having a little too much fun the beautiful ladies dancing on the pole might put you in a little trance,” says Papa who pulls inspiration from Donny Hathaway as well as 2Pac. “On ‘Money Green Eyes’ we fall in love with this stripper and her money green eyes.”
With songs that both young men and women can relate to and fantasize about, Vacancy is sure to strike a cord in just about everyone. Influenced by everyone from New Edition, Sam Cooke, Michael Jackson to Jodeci, Brutha is not only a well rounded group, but they are also continuing a longstanding tradition of musical greatness. Lucky for them, it runs in the family.